Texeira showing off her talent on the mound, too
Miami Gulliver Prep first baseman Stephanie Texeira is pretty sure she isn’t related to New York Yankees first baseman Mark Texeira.
She has checked.
“I’ve looked on the Internet and asked family,” Texeira said. “As far as I know, we’re not related. I’ve asked my mom, ‘Are you sure?’ It would be cool though.”
The same Portuguese last name is the only obvious trait they have in common.
But in softball, Stephanie has proven she can hit the ball with plenty of power and proficiency like her major-league namesake.
Texeira broke the Miami-Dade County record for home runs in a single season with 16 this year and is only three short of equaling the state record of 19, believed to have been set by Orlando Pine Castle Christian’s Brittney Pumpelly in 2007.
Texeira has also equaled former Plantation American Heritage slugger Bailey Castro’s 16 for the most by a South Florida player.
Texeira, a senior who has committed to FIU, has 46 home runs in her career and has been pivotal to Gulliver’s county-record three consecutive state championships.
Gulliver (23-5) is aiming for a fourth beginning Friday when it takes on Starke Bradford (28-2) in a Class 4A state semifinal at the Vero Beach Sports Village. The Raiders hope Texeira can provide a few more big hits.
Texeira has done more than hit for power this season, however, batting .570 with 47 RBI. But she has also given Gulliver added versatility as a pitcher.
Texeira has backed up starter Gabbee Draney in the rotation and gone 5-1 with a 1.19 ERA and two saves.
“If you google the phrase, ‘lead by example,’ you might as well put her picture there,” Gulliver coach Mark Schusterman said. “She’s humble and dedicated and is right up there with the best hitters I’ve ever seen in this county.”
Texeira had experience as a pitcher playing youth softball for the Miami Stingrays. But a fractured foot during her sophomore year forced her to give up pitching. Last season, however, Texeira was asked to pitch again.
“I had forgotten everything about what it takes to pitch well,” Texeira said. “I remember I struggled at first. But I worked on it a lot in the summer, and I love it again. When I’m out there, I love the pressure and the thrill of proving the other team wrong if they think I can’t shut them down.”
Texeira shut down a couple of the state’s best lineups this season, defeating Class 3A finalist Delray American Heritage and pitching three scoreless innings against Class 8A semifinalist Miami Coral Reef. But it’s Texeira’s hitting that appears effortless at times.
“I don’t think too much at the plate, and that’s something I’ve tried working on more this season, and it’s helped,” Texeira said. “When I see the batter in front of me struggling, I just think to myself it’s up to me to pick them up and make it happen for them.”
Ironically, Texeira didn’t really grow up a huge fan of softball or baseball. An avid Dolphins fan, Texeira looks forward to weekends in the fall and watching football.
Texeira has become a versatile athlete during her high school career, playing on the Gulliver volleyball and bowling teams as well.
But her love of softball developed as her two brothers started playing baseball.
Whether she breaks the state record or not, Texeira hopes to cap this historic season the same way she has her first three in high school — with another championship.
“My hitting coach Ralph [Suarez] has been telling me from the start of the season that I’m going to make history,” Texeira said. “Sometimes I have that feeling, too. When I started as a freshman, it was all nerves when we got to state. But now, I treat it like a regular game and focus on winning because we know nothing’s guaranteed.”